Issue #8 of the ITFO Newsletter

gay-in-prison

Because of my limited html coding knowledge I can’t get the the newsletter to print out here. So I’ll give you the link that will pull it up for you and save me the frustration of figuring it out (or waking my husband up from his old hippie before dinner nap!)

I only ask (plead,cajole with a smile) that if you like what I have so far accomplished, to click on the subscribe button and add your name to the mailing list, and then send it to any social media accounts you have to help me grow.

beawriter-560x560

I am finally, in short spurts back to work continuing to edit the book I wrote that got put on hold while my thoroughly crumbled broken arm bone begins to heal. It’s hard to hold my arm up very long so I can type and my chapter files are on my computer, not my tablet. The nerves in my wrist and fingers are starting to heal so I can press my fingers down.  All in all it’s been a real pain.  But everything happens for a reason. It is giving me more time to build my mailing list.  Those addresses on the list will get first notice when it is being published and for a limited time can download the book for free. I’m still not sure if I will go for a traditional publisher because it costs a considerable amount to pay for editing and formatting and book cover art.  The more addresses I have and the more followers I have on all social media, and here at wordpress, can make a big difference on whether they think I am a good enough risk as an unknown author.

I know sometimes when I subscribe to something I end up getting up to three emails a day from them and end up trashing them and unsubscribing. I don’t have time to send out a bunch of emails. It takes 2-3 days to put together one issue. I’ve been putting out one issue a month so you won’t get flooded.  Click on the archive button and take a look at the issues I’ve put out since last May.  It’s been a learning process, but you can see the topics I’ve covered so far.

Anytime you share this anywhere it is a big help.  There are so many people and families who have been impacted by our justice system and it is going to get worse unfortunately. There are already 40 prisons built for deportations so the CEOs of the Prison Industrial Complex is probably drooling over all the money they are going to make locking up immigrants.  Because they have no rights they are getting even less medical care and worse food than the inmates that come from this country and they have no right to an attorney.  No matter how you feel about immigrants they shouldn’t be looked at as profit.  They are building and then auctioning off the prisons with the promise of an unending supply of people to fill them.

Once again here is the link

Thank you

How Solid is Your Rock?

This year we had an example of what happens when we fight against wrong, and win. The people who have been marginalized for centuries after we took their land from them and then pushed them onto tiny patches of land and continued to strangle them as though their lives were worth nothing. They stood up and showed us what the word courage meant. Their intention was not meant to teach us that, they had decided they were not going to let the bullies in this country tell them once again it didn’t matter what they thought; they couldn’t have a say so about the land given to them in treaty if it went against what the bully wanted.

What a proud, strong name – Standing Rock. How appropriate. How unmovable. It was sheer will against sheer will.

“We are going to make you move,” the bully said. “We don’t care if we ruin your lives. We are going to put that pipeline under your water. We are bigger and more powerful and you can’t stop us!”

“This rock stands. It is solid,” The Americans, the true Americans said. “We will not fight you. We bring no weapons. We come in peace but you will not dig up our land to increase your profit. You have raped this land for too long.” The bully isn’t used to not getting it’s way. Other bullies, including our new president have invested much money in this pipeline, in the destruction of our earth and by God they were going to get their way – except they didn’t.

I’m sure the bullies are dreaming up other ways to force the Indians to do their bidding. Who are they, after all, to stop them? They have always won, until now.

The bullies in the land, the wealthy corporations, who can never have enough money and power, disguised their motive in the beginning as being for the good of the people. There is no need to pretend any more. They intend to take what they want and destroy the lives of anyone who gets in their way!

I wanted so much to see the American Indians win but deep in my heart I didn’t see how they could – but they did!

My heart swelled with joy and admiration. All they did was stand there, immovable, and thousands of people came and cheered for them, joining in solidarity. They faced off the bullies. One side with weapons and the Indians with peace. This was important enough to lay their lives down if they had to.

The call came in. The bullies were backing down. Today, while reading I learned something new. Originally, the pipeline was to be put in close to the town of Bismark. They said no! You can’t put it here. You might destroy our water! After thinking a about it they decided instead to put it through the protected land of American Indians, the only true Americans in this country. Bismark won, too, but they suffered no casualties. You see, Bismark is 92% white. The bullies would never have attacked them with guns and other means of hurting people. Bismark was filled with the chosen race, the pure race, the white race. The Indians were expendable.

(update 12/29: I found out with further research that the info I read on Bismark was misleading and was never viable as an option. My apologies for not double checking my resource)

This gave me so much hope and encouragement. It showed me what having faith in one’s convictions really was. For years I have been trying to help change what the bullies do to millions of people who are often innocent of crimes yet get caught in the money making teeth of the Prison Industrial Complex. Guilty or not guilty doesn’t matter. They just need people to make them money. They are forced to work for pennies if they pay them at all. Companies bid on slave labor to make their products. They twist the minds of people through PR until they say, “Let the notion of slavery rest. Why do you always call it slavery?” But if they were forced to work in often very poor conditions, ignoring medical issues, fed slop only fit for pigs and then use their pennies to buy hygiene and cannot use it to help their families, then slavery is exactly what it is. Many are sexually assaulted. Men and women and often by guards.

They twist the minds of people through PR until they say, “Let the notion of slavery rest. Why do you always call it slavery?” But if they were forced to work in often very poor conditions, ignoring medical issues, fed slop only fit for pigs and then use their pennies to buy hygiene and cannot use it to help their families, then slavery is exactly what it is. Many are sexually assaulted. Men and women and often by guards.There are many groups of people across the country and around the world who are fighting to help the men, women and children who are caught in this hell. We fight for sentences to be reasonable and for the non guilty to be freed.  We do not want anyone to be forced in a plea deal out of fear because they are told if the choose to go to court they will add charges so they will never get out. 

White people, black and brown people who commit the same crime should get the same sentence. Parole should fair, and people granted more than a few minutes on a video screen to plea their case while the parole board looks at the next case.

Prison corporations need to go. Education and rehabilitation need to be there so when they are introduced back to society they have a chance of survival instead of being forced to do something illegal so they have enough money to buy food.

prison labor

There are millions of people inside prisons working hard so you can buy the products made for the companies that bid on prison labor. You have no idea if it is made by an inmate who had no choice but to work for for pennies an hour. There are three times that many people affected on the outside as well, and many on probation and parole who can’t find places to life or get a job. Slowly it is changing because people like me,  are working to educate people that prison is nothing like what they watch on TV.

There will be a stand-off coming where people are going to have to choose whether they want their lives ruled by corporate profits. Starting in 2017, for the first time, we will have a government run by the very corporations we railed against. I don’t have to list these corporations. Read the news at Common Dreams, Alternet, Truth Out and others that actually print the truth and not what they are paid to print. Verify at more than one site before you believe anything, the mistake I made earlier in this article. Open your mind and learn the truth. I have no time to fill my mind with the things they want us to believe. Some people are gullible and believe something because they want to and it has no bearing in truth.

The wrong people are changing our country in the wrong way. It’s time we stand up and fight for each other and with each other instead of fighting against each other for our destruction. Make your life count for something. That is the legacy you leave behind.

Society’s Parasite: The Treatment Industrial Complex

light from sky

BRAVE NEW FILMS

If this doesn’t scare you, you aren’t human. If you think this isn’t happening you don’t understand greed. Because I have made it my business to try to understand why our justice system is the way it is and how none of us is really safe agains the corporations, especially if you aren’t full blooded white or if you have a mental history of asking for help. Bi-polar, needing meds and therapy – irratic behavior – needing therapy but no money for treatment so you get “sentenced ” for therapy. Shoot, what IS this about? Can they really do this to people? I know what they do in the prisons. Is this a version of the Twilight Zone where they smile and let you in – but never let you out?

Criminal justice reform efforts are at an all time high and have more momentum than ever. At the same time, there is a dangerous new scheme coming from the for-profit prison industry. The same companies who have made billions off of keeping Americans behind bars, the GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of American (CCA), are now profiting off of another destructive system, the Treatment Industrial Complex (TIC). The TIC is the the expansion of the incarceration industry into areas that traditionally were focused on treatment and care of individuals involved in the criminal justice system–prison medical care, forensic mental hospitals, civil commitment centers, and ‘community corrections’ programs such as halfway houses, electronic monitoring, and home arrest.  Many factors are at play in the rise of TIC. As the public has grown more aware over the years of the large scale disenfranchisement of people of color by way of mass incarceration and the prison-industrial complex, so has there been rise in support for an end to the for-profit prison system. This social awakening is perceived as a threat to those who have been profiting off incarceration. This new approach is an attempt at repackaging the prison system for continued profits. Society’s Parasite: A Look Into The Treatment Industrial Complex, shows how dangerous this development is to the widespread movement for real criminal justice reform in the name of safety, not profits.

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NPR -Investigations Into Prisons – Part 2

This is the second part of an interview on August 25 on the real conditions of Federal prisons for profit that most people are unaware exist. It’s time to bring this out in the open.

The way it was reported, like the way the release of 6000 Federal inmates released last year was reported, it gave you the feeling that it directly affected our own citizens, but really that percentage was very small.  CCA and GEO and others are prevalent through the state prisons as well as the Federal, but most of the inmates by far are in state prisons.  Everyone who has a friend or loved one in a prison knows exactly what these corporations do and have been fighting them for a long time. Lousy food, inadequate education if they give it at all, medical care that kills people and on and on. 

So these corporations have no had their wrists slapped. Stock temporarily took a hit, but they didn’t get hit where it hurts.  They need to be ousted from all of the prisons.  But which politicians are in bed with them?  that is what we need to know. Make the government do their job.  They can give lip service and say things like they know how bad it is but as long as they have contracts with these companies they can’t put their money where their mouth is. If they continue to renew contracts with them after this, they are letting themselves in for trouble from many people because then it becomes yet another line of bullshit about wanting to change the prison system and take care of the vast amount of people who have been given outrageous sentences or shouldn’t be in there in the first place – yet not actually do anything about it.

************

DAVIES: Our guest today, Seth Freed Wessler is an investigative reporter who spent much of the past four years looking into conditions at the 13 privately operated prisons in the federal corrections system.

fair care for all
Enter a caption

Let’s talk about how this whole financial arrangement works and how it might connect to some of these issues. You know, a lot of the services that government provides aren’t provided by public employees. They’re done in private contracts.

You know, building roads – I mean, typically, private construction companies competitively bid for work. They complete it. It’s inspected. And they’re paid. Let’s talk about how it works for prisons. How does a contract typically work for a private prison?

It must be a big, expensive thing to build a prison. How long are the contracts? What are the provisions? What are the standards and the methods for making sure that the contractors live up to them?

WESSLER: So the Bureau of Prisons puts out calls for proposals when they want to open a new private prison. And a group of companies – at this point, really, only three companies – Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and a company called Management and Training Corporation bid for these contracts.

cca. prison corporations, prison industrial complex
photo source: correctionsproject.com

The contracts usually last about 10 years. And during that period of time, there are points when the Bureau of Prisons can decide whether to extend the contract further. One of the main reasons that the federal government decided to contract in the first place is that it believed that contractors could save money.

And there are real questions about whether that’s actually happened. But even if the prisons cost about the same, which is what research suggests, what’s different about private prisons from prisons run by governments is that – let’s say you’re spending – the government spends a hundred dollars per prisoner.

In a public prison, a prison run by the government, all of that money is going to the management of the facility. But in the context of private prisons, some of that money is profit for these companies. And so there is an incentive to cut down on costs.

And one of the most expensive parts of federal prisons – of prisons in general – is the operation of medical care. What I found in my reporting – interviewing people who worked inside these prisons – is that there was this sort of constant pressure to cut costs, a culture of austerity inside of these facilities.

I talked to an older doctor in his mid-80s, a man named John Farquhar, who worked for several years as the prison doctor in Big Spring Prison, a private facility in West Texas run by the GEO Group.

Just days after he arrived, took the job as the medical director of Big Spring, his corporate bosses arrived to tell him that they felt that they needed to cut down on the number of 911 calls made out of the prison because those calls cost too much money.

DAVIES: Those are cases where they need an ambulance to get someone to a higher level of care?

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, I came across this doctor because through Freedom of Information Act request, I obtained thousands of pages of medical records of men who had died in these facilities – 103 men who died inside of these facilities.

And in some of those records, I found notes from nurses or physician’s assistants and, in this case, from the physician. And in those notes, it was remarkable because not only was he appearing to provide sort of more care and a higher level of care than most of the other doctors in the facilities that I looked at were providing – that is, in facilities that had doctors at all.

But he left these sort of indignant notes behind about how upset he was about the quality of care that he was able to provide. He said in one note, this prisoner will almost certainly die.

This was in the context of a case where he had been trying to transfer somebody out to get care outside of the prison. And he was told by his corporate bosses that he wouldn’t be allowed to do that. In another note, he wrote, I feel badly for the shabby care.

Medical Treatment behind bars
photo source: prison.uk.blogspot.com

You know, this is a guy who clearly wanted to be providing higher-quality medical care. He’d been a doctor for decades. He’d been a military doctor. He’s now a doctor for the Veterans Administration in Texas. And he felt that these pressures to cut costs made that very difficult to do.

DAVIES: You know, I’m sure it’s not easy to get highly trained medical personnel to work in a prison system. It’s not the kind of environment most medical professionals would imagine working in. They’re often in remote places.

So there is going to be a difficulty, I think, in getting good-quality people to do that. And they’re probably going to have to pay more. Is that addressed at all when this arrangement was set up?

It’s simply going to – you’re going to have to spend some money – aren’t you? – to take care of literally thousands of people who can have health issues.

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, the Bureau of Prisons across the board has struggled to fully staff its medical units. And that’s especially a problem in rural areas where it’s hard to find doctors to come and work.

But there were facilities in my investigation that for months – nearly a year in some cases – had no medical doctor at all or who significantly understaffed their nursing departments for months and months at a time.

In fact, the Office of Inspector General from the Department of Justice found in a previous investigation that a prison called Reeves in West Texas, another GEO Group-run facility, was systematically understaffing its medical unit.

And only after the investigation did that begin to change. But the fact that it did change after the investigation suggests that it’s a problem that could be fixed and that the contractors weren’t fixing.

DAVIES: You know, you said that in these private prisons, which are for noncitizens – I mean, typically, illegal immigrants who were caught trying to re-enter the country – they’re designed to have fewer services – rehabilitative services, educational program, addiction counseling, mental health services.

But they are supposed to provide some standard of medical care and decent living conditions. And as with all government contracts, there’s a monitoring system, right?

Somebody’s supposed to come in regularly, examine the conditions, review records and see whether the public is getting what it’s paying for to these private companies. You looked at a lot of these monitoring reports. What did they show?

WESSLER: Well – so after the Bureau of Prisons set up this system of private facilities, it also set up what is really a pretty robust system of contract monitoring. So it hires a couple of people for each facility to actually be on-site and watch over what the facilities are doing.

And then every year or every six months, a group of monitors trained very specifically in subject areas go into these facilities to check to see if the prisons are following the terms of the contract. I obtained nearly   decade of these monitoring reports. And the reports show that for years, monitors documented deep and systemic problems in these facilities.

And the monitors would send these reports back to Washington. And what I found is that despite these ongoing problems, officials in Washington – contracting officials in Washington – didn’t impose the full fines or use their full enforcement muscle available to them to force changes inside of these facilities.

In fact, the Office of Inspector General report from the Department of Justice that came out recently found that when prisoners died inside of these facilities, and those deaths were connected to medical negligence – that the Bureau of Prisons didn’t have an effective way to force the companies to correct those problems. And so prisoners would die. And the problems would go on.

DAVIES: Now the contracts provided for specific monetary penalties, right? I mean, this is the way you build a contract. I mean, if you don’t deliver the service, you are penalized. And presumably for-profit providers would pay a lot of attention. As you looked at these records in cases where monitors said things are not working here, people are being endangered, do you have a sense of why financial penalties weren’t imposed? What led to those sets of decisions?

WESSLER: I interviewed a number of former Bureau of Prison monitors who were tasked with overseeing the operations and contracts of these facilities. And what I found was that on-the-ground monitors were proposing quite significant fines when things went wrong. So when a facility failed to provide prisoners with infectious disease care or a prisoner died as a result of not receiving the kind of medical care that they needed that the onsite monitors would ask the Bureau of Prisons in Washington to impose significant fines.

DAVIES:  Let’s talk about how this whole financial arrangement works and how it might connect to some of these issues. You know, a lot of the services that government provides aren’t provided by public employees. They’re done in private contracts.

You know, building roads – I mean, typically, private construction companies competitively bid for work. They complete it. It’s inspected. And they’re paid. Let’s talk about how it works for prisons. How does a contract typically work for a private prison?

It must be a big, expensive thing to build a prison. How long are the contracts? What are the provisions? What are the standards and the methods for making sure that the contractors live up to them?

WESSLER: So the Bureau of Prisons puts out calls for proposals when they want to open a new private prison. And a group of companies – at this point, really, only three companies – Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and a company called Management and Training Corporation bid for these contracts.

The contracts usually last about 10 years. And during that period of time, there are points when the Bureau of Prisons can decide whether to extend the contract further. One of the main reasons that the federal government decided to contract in the first place is that it believed that contractors could save money.

And there are real questions about whether that’s actually happened. But even if the prisons cost about the same, which is what research suggests, what’s different about private prisons from prisons run by governments is that – let’s say you’re spending – the government spends a hundred dollars per prisoner.

In a public prison, a prison run by the government, all of that money is going to the management of the facility. But in the context of private prisons, some of that money is profit for these companies. And so there is an incentive to cut down on costs.

And one of the most expensive parts of federal prisons – of prisons in general – is the operation of medical care. What I found in my reporting – interviewing people who worked inside these prisons – is that there was this sort of constant pressure to cut costs, a culture of austerity inside of these facilities.

I talked to an older doctor in his mid-80s, a man named John Farquhar, who worked for several years as the prison doctor in Big Spring Prison, a private facility in West Texas run by the GEO Group.

Just days after he arrived, took the job as the medical director of Big Spring, his corporate bosses arrived to tell him that they felt that they needed to cut down on the number of 911 calls made out of the prison because those calls cost too much money.

DAVIES: Those are cases where they need an ambulance to get someone to a higher level of care?

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, I came across this doctor because through Freedom of Information Act request, I obtained thousands of pages of medical records of men who had died in these facilities – 103 men who died inside of these facilities.

And in some of those records, I found notes from nurses or physician’s assistants and, in this case, from the physician. And in those notes, it was remarkable because not only was he appearing to provide sort of more care and a higher level of care than most of the other doctors in the facilities that I looked at were providing – that is, in facilities that had doctors at all.

But he left these sort of indignant notes behind about how upset he was about the quality of care that he was able to provide. He said in one note, this prisoner will almost certainly die.

This was in the context of a case where he had been trying to transfer somebody out to get care outside of the prison. And he was told by his corporate bosses that he wouldn’t be allowed to do that. In another note, he wrote, I feel badly for the shabby care.

You know, this is a guy who clearly wanted to be providing higher-quality medical care. He’d been a doctor for decades. He’d been a military doctor. He’s now a doctor for the Veterans Administration in Texas. And he felt that these pressures to cut costs made that very difficult to do.

DAVIES: You know, I’m sure it’s not easy to get highly trained medical personnel to work in a prison system. It’s not the kind of environment most medical professionals would imagine working in. They’re often in remote places.

So there is going to be a difficulty, I think, in getting good quality people to do that. And they’re probably going to have to pay more. Is that addressed at all when this arrangement was set up?

It’s simply going to – you’re going to have to spend some money – aren’t you? – to take care of literally thousands of people who have health issues.

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, the Bureau of Prisons across the board has struggled to fully staff its medical units. And that’s especially a problem in rural areas where it’s hard to find doctors to come and work.

But there were facilities in my investigation that for months – nearly a year in some cases – had no medical doctor at all or who significantly understaffed their nursing departments for months and months at a time.

In fact, the Office of Inspector General from the Department of Justice found in a previous investigation that a prison called Reeves in West Texas, another GEO Group-run facility, was systematically under-staffing its medical unit.

And only after the investigation did that begin to change. But the fact that it did change after the investigation suggests that it’s a problem that could be fixed and that the contractors weren’t fixing.

DAVIES: You know, you said that in these private prisons, which are for non-citizens. I mean, typically, illegal immigrants who were caught trying to re-enter the country – they’re designed to have fewer services – rehabilitative services, educational program, addiction counseling, mental health services.

But they are supposed to provide some standard of medical care and decent living conditions. And as with all government contracts, there’s a monitoring system, right?

Somebody is supposed to come in regularly, examine the conditions, review records and see whether the public is getting what it’s paying for to these private companies. You looked at a lot of these monitoring reports. What did they show?

WESSLER: Well – so after the Bureau of Prisons set up this system of private facilities, it also set up what is really a pretty robust system of contract monitoring. So it hires a couple of people for each facility to actually be on-site and watch over what the facilities are doing.

And then every year or every six months, a group of monitors trained very specifically in subject areas go into these facilities to check to see if the prisons are following the terms of the contract. I obtained nearly a decade of these monitoring reports. And the reports show that for years, monitors documented deep and systemic problems in these facilities.

And the monitors would send these reports back to Washington. And what I found is that despite these ongoing problems, officials in Washington – contracting officials in Washington – didn’t impose the full fines or use their full enforcement muscle available to them to force changes inside of these facilities.

In fact, the Office of Inspector General report from the Department of Justice that came out recently found that when prisoners died inside of these facilities, and those deaths were connected to medical negligence – that the Bureau of Prisons didn’t have an effective way to force the companies to correct those problems. And so prisoners would die. And the problems would go on.

DAVIES: Now the contracts provided for specific monetary penalties, right? I mean, this is the way you build a contract. I mean, if you don’t deliver the service, you are penalized. And presumably for-profit providers would pay a lot of attention. As you looked at these records in cases where monitors said things are not working here, people are being endangered, do you have a sense of why financial penalties weren’t imposed? What led to those sets of decisions?

WESSLER: I interviewed a number of former Bureau of Prison monitors who were tasked with overseeing the operations and contracts of these facilities. And what I found was that on-the-ground monitors were proposing quite significant fines when things went wrong. So when a facility failed to provide prisoners with infectious disease care or a prisoner died as a result of not receiving the kind of medical care that they needed that the onsite monitors would ask the Bureau of Prisons in Washington to impose significant fines.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

***************

GO TO PART ONE

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NPR – Investigation Into Private Prisons Part one

illegal immigrant inmates, prison inmates
photo source: tumbler.com

Sonni’s note: Earlier today as I was driving around town I was listening to NPR on the radio. This interview was just beginning to play. Because this issue has been in the media quite a bit the past few days I wanted to hear what was said.  I learned quite a bit I didn’t know. This post is fairly long because it covers so much, but I broke it into two parts.  Many people showed a lot of interest when they learned about the Federal prisons being closed, but those articles left out some very important facts so please read this carefully.

I had a discussion with my medical doctor about a year ago about doctors in prisons.  I told him the experience Jamie has had with his medical care. He came right out and told me it wasn’t true; there was a doctor on the premises every day.  It was the law.  He said the HAD to provide care to the inmates.  I didn’t argue with him.  It was obvious he really didn’t know the facts.

I have also wondered why a doctor would want to be a prison doctor.  Was it because they couldn’t get a job anywhere else because of their own record of care?  I couldn’t see them being paid well. According to the four years of research this journalist did, some prisons may go for up to a year without a doctor at all and the only medical care the inmates get are from fairly untrained nurses who provide care illegally above their degrees of training.

Jamie – and other inmates have told me, Tylenol and ibuprophen  are the drugs they hand out no matter what the medical problem.  For Jamie’s heart problem, they denied the cardiologist wrote down he had a problem at all.  When I called the medical unit all the person in charge did was talk me around in circles because his chart was empty.  It said he went to the cardiologist, but there was no report.  I wonder why?

So why are there so many deaths from lack of care? that is an easy answer.

************

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I’m Dave Davies, in for Terry Gross, who’s off this week. Last week, the Justice Department announced it would start to phase out the use of private for-profit prisons to hold federal inmates.

Our guest today may have had something to do with that. Seth Freed Wessler is an investigative reporter who spent much of the past four years looking into conditions at the 13 privately operated prisons in the federal corrections system.

Wessler sought records under the Freedom of Information Act from the Bureau of Prisons, which finally released them after Wessler sued and got a court order. The resulting 9,000 pages of medical records and 20,000 pages of monitoring reports paint a troubling picture, particularly in the area of medical care for inmates.

Wessler wrote a series of stories which told of crowded conditions, understaffing, inmate deaths from untreated illnesses and four prison riots, all related to complaints about medical care. Seth Freed Wessler is an independent reporter working for The Investigative Fund. His series on conditions at the 13 privately run federal prisons appeared in The Nation.

Well, Seth Wessler, welcome to FRESH AIR. How long has the Federal Bureau of Prisons been using private correctional facilities?

SETH FREED WESSLER: The Bureau of Prisons in the mid-and-late ’90s began a process of privatizing a subset of the federal prisons that it manages. In the ’90s, the size of the federal prison population was growing massively.

And the federal BOP decided that to house some of this population of prisoners, they would start contracting with private corrections companies. And very soon, the Bureau of Prisons decided that they would use these facilities – these private separate facilities – to hold noncitizens convicted of federal crimes.

And the logic was that noncitizens, because they’ll later be transferred to immigration officials and deported, are an ideal group of people to hold in these sort of explicitly stripped down federal prisons because unlike citizens who the federal government says need to be provided re-entry services to return to their communities, noncitizens will be deported and so don’t have to be provided those same services.

DAVIES: Right – even though the sentences are pretty long – right? – in some cases.

WESSLER: Yeah. Yeah. People spend years in these prisons. Usually, the last few years of their sentences – and are then transferred to immigration authorities and deported. So men I talked to who had been held in these facilities for three, four, five years – really languishing there, often just sort of waiting out their time with little access to programs or services before, later, they’ll be deported.

DAVIES: Just to be clear here, these are not – we’re not talking about immigration detention facilities that the immigrations customs enforcement folks do. These are people who have committed crimes and are in federal custody, right?

WESSLER: That’s right. There’s a separate immigration detention system operated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold people who are waiting for deportation, who are – who may be deported.

These facilities are used only for people who are convicted of federal crimes and are being held by the Federal Bureau of Prisons for those convictions. Many of the people in these facilities are held for a crime called re-entry after deportation. That is returning to the United States after they’ve been previously deported.

And increasingly over the last 15 years, that act of crossing the border after a deportation has been treated not as a civil violation that’s responded to with – just by deportation – but as a crime. And sentences for crossing the border after deportation can be years and years.

The average sentence for illegal re-entry is a couple of years. And so many of the men inside this sort of separate segregated system of federal private prisons are held for just that crime of crossing back over the border.

DAVIES: The logic here was that it was easy enough for people once deported to return that they had to really impose a tough penalty so as to discourage that? Is that the idea there?

WESSLER: That’s right. In the mid-2000s, the federal government started prosecuting huge numbers of people – tens of thousands of people a year – criminally for crossing the border in an attempt to deter them from crossing again.

In fact, when federal investigators went looking for evidence that that deterrence worked, they didn’t find any. But last year, more than 70,000 people were charged criminally for illegal entry or illegal re-entry. Those prosecutions now make up about half of all federal prosecutions and have helped to grow the size of the federal prison system.

So while the prison system has expanded in significant part because of drug prosecutions – and that gets a lot of attention – in the federal context, these immigration violations that have been criminalized are also helping to expand the size of the population of federal prisoners.

DAVIES: OK. Before the Justice Department made this announcement that it would try and wind down the use of these private prisons, how many prisoners, roughly, are being held in these private correctional facilities?

WESSLER: There are currently 22,000 federal prisoners held in private facilities. Most of those are used only to hold noncitizens. And they make up about an eighth of the federal prison system.

At one point, that number was about 30,000. It’s started to fall a bit in the last few years. And the Department of Justice announcement says that the Bureau of Prisons will have to begin diminishing its use of these facilities, closing them over the next few years as the contracts end.

By next year, that number of prisoners in federal private facilities will have dropped to about 14,000. And within five years, the federal BOP is to sort of zero out the number of people held in private facilities altogether.

DAVIES: So you spent a couple of years getting documents, interviewing people. In broad terms, what kinds of problems did your reporting discover?

WESSLER: When I began investigating these prisons, I found that the men held inside were being held in conditions that were incredibly disturbing. And this is especially true in the context of medical care, which I investigated at length.

I found that in case after case, prisoners who were sick with treatable illnesses were not being provided even baseline levels of medical care and were complaining time and again about pain and illness. And those illnesses got worse and worse. And in some cases, without any substantive care at all, men died as a result of substandard care.

I wrote about the case of a man named Claudio Fajardo Saucedo (ph). He was in his early 40s and was held at the Reeves Facility, a GEO Group-run facility in West Texas. And soon after he arrived at that facility, he started to complain of pain – back pain, headaches, other pain. And he complained over and over again.

In fact, he complained 18 times – at least 18 times in two years. And every time he complained of this pain, which was getting worse and worse, he was seen only by low-level medical staff – in this case, licensed vocational nurses who go through training for about a year and are supposed to act as support staff to registered nurses.

Well, those were nearly the only people that Mr. Fajardo Saucedo was seeing when he went to these clinics. He was sent back to his cell only with Ibuprofen or Tylenol until finally, after two years of being held in this facility, he collapsed outright in the facility and was sent to a local hospital, where he immediately tested positive for AIDS and died days later of AIDS-related illnesses.

What’s striking about this is not only that he was completely neglected for these two years – that he wasn’t provided any substantive care from doctors or more highly trained medical providers. But also, this prison – Bureau of Prison rules require that prisoners who arrive at new facilities be tested for HIV, and he was never tested for HIV, even as he complained of illnesses that would have suggested he might have been HIV positive. Doctors who I asked to review his medical records said that had he been tested and had the facility known that he was HIV positive, he very likely could have survived.

DAVIES:  I want to talk about the conditions in some of these facilities that are – 13 facilities, right – at which non-citizens are kept in and – that who are convicted of federal crime. You described in some detail a prison in Raymondville, Texas, Willacy County. And I was struck by the description of just the housing units, where people slept. How did that work?

WESSLER: The Willacy County facility in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas is a facility that the bureau – the Bureau of Prisons decided to start using several years ago. It’s a prison that has had a long history of problems. In fact, the Willacy facility was actually built to be a detention center where people would be held for a pretty short amount of time. And as a result, it’s not a regular prison. It’s not built out of concrete. There are no real walls in most of the facility. It was actually a facility built entirely out of Kevlar tents. There were rows of these massive Kevlar domes that stretched for a couple of football fields and held in each of them 200 prisoners, men charged with and convicted of federal crimes.

Inside of these tents, men who I talked to who had been held there said that the facilities would get incredibly hot, that it would smell terrible inside, that sometimes the toilets would back up. And they were held in these – in these tents for months and sometimes years at a time. This same facility, the Willacy facility, actually lost a contract with federal immigration authorities years earlier largely because of really terrible conditions inside.

And just months after the immigration agency got out of this contract, ended its contract with the Management and Training Corporation to run this prison, the Bureau of Prisons reopened the facility as a federal prison or prison for federal prisoners contracting again with the Management and Training Corporation to hold its inmates.

DAVIES: And in these big domes where you say 200 inmates would live together, did anybody have private cells or were they just racks of bunks?

WESSLER: No, they were rows of bunk beds, and so men would sleep a couple of feet apart, and they had no privacy whatsoever. They were left largely alone to manage their own affairs, usually with one guard overseeing a whole crowd of prisoners. And from time to time, they’d be let out of the domes and allowed to spend time on a concrete yard. And in the middle of all of these tents, guards would walk back and forth, watching what happened inside of these yards. But by and large, men spent months, sometimes years, held in these Kevlar domes in this – what started to be called the tent city in Willacy.

DAVIES: And was it typical in these private prisons that prisoners stayed in group dwellings as opposed to cells with just one or two inmates?

WESSLER: You know, what’s interesting about these private prisons is that they’re all very different because they’re often built in haphazard ways. There’s another facility called Big Spring in another part of Texas that was constructed on the premises of an old Air Force base and in an old hotel in this town of Big Spring. And so some prisoners in that facility were held in cells that where 10 people were sleeping in a room the size of about a normal hotel room. In other places, prisoners were held in much larger areas in other places in several people – in cells that held just several people. There’s no real order to how these places are built. The private companies find spaces and then rent these spaces out to the federal government.

DAVIES: Health care is a – was a big issue in – among the inmates and led to riots. I mean, there were – what? – four riots, all of them related to medical care, right?

WESSLER: That’s right. You know, it’s incredibly unusual in federal prisons for unrest, for protests to turn into riots. But at least four times in these for-profit prisons, prisoner protest turned into massive riots. And at Willacy, the south Texas facility I talked about, that riot, which started as a protest and then as a result of incredible force used by prison guards – rubber bullets, tear gas, these sort of BB-filled exploding grenades that prison officials used to respond to that protest – a riot erupted.

And prisoners actually so decimated this facility, burning holes and – cutting and burning holes in the sides of those Kevlar tents, that in that case the federal government determined that the facility was, quote, “uninhabitable” and closed it down last year.

When I spoke with prisoners who were held in the facility, men who were now locked in other prisons or had not – or who had been deported and I spoke to in Mexico, as well as with prison guards, it became immediately clear that this was a protest that had emerged over issues including, most substantively, bad medical care in this facility.

DAVIES: These privately run prisons in the system are for non-citizens, I mean – very typically people who were arrested – illegal immigrants who were arrested for trying to enter the country after having been deported, and the standards are different, right? How are the requirements and standards different for a regular Bureau of Prisons facility which citizens are housed? How are the standards different for them as opposed to these privately run prisons?

WESSLER: The Federal Bureau of Prisons, when it runs its own facilities, it applies hundreds of rules and standards, these things called program statements to the operation of those facilities. Those program statements guide how everything works from the nitty gritty of medical care to how many guards will be on any given unit to how prisoners are fed and so on. When it began contracting with private companies to hold some federal prisoners, one of the ideas was that these companies could help the Bureau of Prisons save on costs, and in an attempt to help these prison companies do that, the BOP, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, applied fewer rules to these facilities. So only a few dozen of those program statements actually apply to the way these facilities operate. And what that means is that the kinds of programs and services that exist in regular Bureau of Prisons facilities simply don’t operate in these facilities.

In the context of medical care, the contracts that the companies sign with the federal government require the companies to follow some of the Bureau of Prisons’ own rules. But in other areas, the prisons are allowed to sort of make it up as they go. And that includes the prisons staffing plans, so one of the things that I found in my reporting was that in these for-profit prisons, the companies are using much lower-trained kinds of medical workers, often licensed vocational or licensed practical nurses, who have about a year of training. These LVNs are the sort of front-line workers in this medical system. So when a sick prisoner has a problem, the person that they’re talking to is somebody who’s really not trained to provide substantive care, and that can be the only person that this – that an inmate sees for months sometimes at a time.

DAVIES: So in that case, you have a, you know – a medical person who typically provides medical support services, and they’re the one diagnosing what could be a serious or complicated medical issue.

WESSLER: Well, what ends up happening is that somebody comes in and complains of a headache or of back pain or of another kind of illness, and it’s this low-level medical worker who’s making decisions about what should happen next. And often that decision is that nothing should happen next or that this person just needs some Tylenol. And so the prisoner will be sent back to their cell with a couple of pills of Ibuprofen, and that’s it.

And then again, that same person will come back and complain again of a similar illness and see only one of these low-level nurses. I asked doctors to review the medical files I obtained of prisoners who were held inside of these facilities. And they said over and over again that these low-level licensed vocational nurses were really operating outside of their legal scope of practice, outside of what they’ve been trained to do.

And then when I got to obtain more records from the Bureau of Prisons, I found that the Bureau of Prisons itself, the monitors that the agency sends into these facilities to check on how these private companies are operating – they found that 10 of these private prisons had actually broken state nursing practice laws by pushing nurses to work outside of their legal scope of practice of what they’re trained to do.

DAVIES: Seth Freed Wessler’s stories on privately run prisons appeared in The Nation. After a break, he’ll tell us about what federal monitors reported on conditions in those prisons and why those reports didn’t lead to change.

End part one . . . Start part two

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Mind Control – 24 Tactics used on the “Black Militant”

schismofthemind

In 1962 the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons James V Bennet, convened a meeting in Washington DC with a group of Social Scientist and Wardens from around the country.  On the agenda was the unveiling of a new control technique program entitled “The C.A.M.P system”.  An acronym for countering anti-socialism modification project.  The topic of discussion was the examination of the emergence of the so called “Black Militant” in the nations prisons. 

There was a growing concern among US Government officials and Penologist that this phenomenon of “militant minded” negroes who were perceived as a threat due to their practice of an unorthodox form of political and cultural expression which prison officials viewed as a threat to the order and control of the countries state and federal prison system and possibly national security. 

As a result of director Bennett’s absurd and paranoid delusions relative to the growth and educational values of these so called militant minded negroes who were providing one another through study and research, with an historical and true account of their patrimony here in America.  Director Bennet along with other government officials began to implement programs designed to impede, regress, and ultimately retard this cultural and militant insurgent which had spawned the likes of Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and later George Jackson and countless others who rose from anonymity out of the nations prison system and emerged as social and spiritual paragons representing the disenfranchised in general, black and POOR people in particular. 

Director Bennet then introduced their key note speaker Dr. Edgar Schein to the small assembled group of 64 men. All of whom were of European descendant.  Dr. Edgar Schein’s background had included studying the psychological impact on former holocaust survivors and their experiences in Nazi Germany concentration camps in his dissertation, aptly named “Man vs. Man”.  Dr. Schein provided the group with various scenarios on behavioral patterns and antidotal countermeasures relative to the so called “negroid pathos”.  The following excerpts are transcribed from this infamous September 18, 1962 meeting, procured from Federal archives via the Federal Freedom of Information Act and are revealed here for your critique and cerebration.
“Gentlemen, in order to produce marked changes in behavior and attitude it is necessary to weaken, undermine or remove the support systems of the old patterns of behavior and the old attitudes.  Because most of these supports are the face to face confirmation of present behavior and attitudes, which are provided to those with whom close emotional ties exist, it is therefore essential to eradicate those emotional bonds.  This can be done either by removing the individual physically and preventing any communication with those whom he cares about or by proving to him, the prisoner, that those whom he respects are not worthy of it and indeed should be actively distrusted.”  -Dr. Edgar Schein, Sept. 18, 1962

Dr. Schein then presented to the assembled group a literary of suggestions and tactics designed to attain “behavioral modifications” desirable by prison officials to control the thinking patterns of its incarcerated populace and to curtail or reduce an appetite for cultural or political aspirations.  These 24 accumulous and widely implemented tactics & maneuvers are set out below:

1.  the physical removal of prisoners to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or seriously weaken close emotional ties.
2.  identify and segregate all natural leaders.
3.  use of cooperative prisoners as leaders.
4.  prohibition of group activities not in line with brainwashing objectives.
5.  spying on prisoners and reporting back private materials.
6.  manipulating prisoners into making written statements which are then shown to others.
7.  exploitation of opportunist and informers.
8.  convincing prisoners that they can trust no other prisoner.
9.  treating those who are willing to cooperate in a far more lenient way than those who are not.
10.  punishing those who show uncooperative attitudes.
11.  systematic withholding of mail and other correspondence.
12.  preventing contact with anyone non-sympathetic  to the method of treatment and regimen of the captive populace.
13.  disorganization of all group standards among prisoners.
14.  building a group conviction among the prisoners that they have been abandoned by, and totally isolated from their social order.
15.  undermining all emotional support.
16.  preventing prisoners from communicating with family and supporters regarding the conditions of their confinement,
17.  making available and permitting access to only those publications and books that contain materials which are neutral to, or supportive of the desired new attitude.
18.  placing individuals into new and ambiguous situations for which the standards and rules and policies are deliberately kept unclear and then putting pressure on the prisoner to conform to what is desired in order to win favor and a reprieve from the pressure.
19.  placing the prisoner whose will power has been severely weakened or eroded into a soft living environment with others who are further advanced in their brainwashing reform who’s job is to influence the teetering prisoner to give up and assimilate into the desired behavior.
20.  using techniques of character invalidation, i.e., humiliations, revilements, shouting, isolation; to promote sensory deprivation, to induce feelings of guilt, fear, and suggestibility.
21.  meeting all insincere attempts to conform with the desired thought patterns with renewed hostility.
22.  repeatedly pointing out to the prisoner that those prisoners whom he respects as a leader and example of strength is not living up to the values and militant principles that he espouses.  supplanting the thought that all other prisoners are hypocrites and liars.
23.  rewards for submission and subservient attitudes which embrace the brainwashing objectives by providing praise and emotional support to those who embrace the desired behavior(brainwashing) which reinforces the new attitudes.
24.  making sure that if a once militant prisoner is ever revealed as being a snitch or a homosexual, that all prisoners learn of his disgrace in order to create doubt and misgivings in the environment.  Creating false rumor, character assassination on a militant prisoner.

Following Dr. Scheins dissertation, director Bennet delivered his closing remarks to the group “…one of the things we must do, gentlemen, is more research.  It was suggested that we have a very large organization with tremendous opportunity here to conduct some of the experiments that have been alluded to.  We can manipulate our environment and culture.  We can adopt many of the techniques Dr. Schein has discussed.  Do things on your own, gentlemen.  Undertake little experiments, see what you can do with the Muslims?  There is a lot of research to do.  Do it as individuals, do it as groups and report back to us the results.”

It is worth taking note that back in 1962, over 53 years ago, B.O.P. director James V. Bennet implored his adherents to “do things on your own, undertake little experiments”.  Indeed these “experiments” have blossomed into full-blown projects as of 2007.  Enacted under the guise of prison programs clandestinely entitled, (STG) security threat group, “conflict resolution“, “personal growth and system adjustment“, “impulse control“, “re-entry program opportunity for change” group therapy, MPRI; the generals of these 2007 programs is none other than Dr. Scheins 1962 “Man vs. Man” brainwashing formula and programming.  Specifically designed to impede and prevent development of the militant mind set of the so called negro prisoner, but is not limited to black people or people of any race or color, who finds himself in the bowels of the BOP. 

Bearing in mind that the term militant simply means ready and willing to fight; esp., vigorous and aggressive in support or promotion of a self interest cause.  Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad, George Jackson, Dr. King and even Marcus Garvey, all of whom spent time behind bars, were all “militant minded” and while behind bars they never required any group therapy or re-entry programming.  The clear and obvious import for the influx and emphasis of these “programs” for the contemporary “prisoner” is to ensure that he or she does not become the next Malcolm X or Dr. King.

The most insidious of Dr. Schein’s tactics is that of #14, i.e. “building a group conviction among prisoners that they have been abandoned by and totally isolated from their social order“.  Simply stated, they are not wanted by their own communities or families, that their own community also condones and supports, encourages all of the emotional, psychological and physical mistreatment, in some cases torture and death, at the hands of racist and sadistic prison officials and guards.  In response to this sense of abandonment by both family and community, the prisoner returns to his family and community, not as the welcomed prodigal son, nor in the likeness of a Malcolm X.  But instead, he or she returns with a mindset of rage, disconnectedness, indifference and views his own family and community by extension as his oppressor, consequently he becomes an enemy of his own community.  Tactic # 14 plays the community and the prisoner against one another, thus it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy of the “ex-felon”, “parolee” inflicting terror upon his own family or community. 

Most prisoners will return to their community someday, and how they return depends on whether or not they succumb to the brainwashing system.  By becoming neutralized, not possessing the militant mind set to uplift their communities and families in the spirit of a Malcolm X upon their return to society. 

Those who resist the brainwashing tactics are then systematically subjected to the list of ploys prescribed by Dr. Schein, e.g. denial of paroles, placed in maximum security facility that has been strategically placed in some rural outpost, tortured or mistreated…  the prisoner has been labeled, characterized, ostracized, stigmatized by the MDOC regime as one who is deserving of distrust, dangerous, a killer, rapist, and all around mad man.  The beguiled public’s indoctrinated embrace of these stereotypical characterization allows for the self fulfilling prophecy to be played out.  Conversely, those prisoners who do succumb to the brainwashing tactics become defeatist sycophants returning to their families and communities neutralized and countervailed. This is psychological warfare.

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Disclaimer – sometime ago I was doing research on Dr. Edgar Shein and I didn’t write down from where I got this info.  It was too good to not print.  My intention was not to plagiarize.  This explains much of the reasoning behind the intentions of locking up so many of the black race to try to use mind control in the form of segregation and removing personal property and family contact to make them feel worthless and abandoned. They were not wanted by their communities when they were let out of prison. These doctors thought they could control them and make them less dangerous. Instead they end up seriously injuring many prisoners by increasing their grip on reality through mental illness. The thought that they thought this was an acceptable thing to do is obscene.

Because of where racism is headed – the hate has been let out of the bottle and people now feel free to admit how racist they really are. Instead of not being sure how they will be accepted in society if they admit to being racist, and admitting they really do feel they are a superior race, more people think it is acceptable to openenly perform hate crimes against people they feel are beneath them.  It is not the black people that need to be feared, but rather the white people who don’t want their station in life to be perceived as being less than what they falsely believe to be truth.

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It’s Not Enough Just To Deplore Horrific Violence

(If you don’t know who Michelle Alexander is you should do some research on her history. She is a voice of reason among a sea of voices who speak only to hear the sound of their own voice pushing an agenda that benefits only the mighty few. Earlier in my postings are other articles and at least one video by her as well.)

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Michelle Alexander: It’s Not Enough to Just Deplore Horrific Violence

We need a profound shift in our collective consciousness in order to challenge an entrenched system of racial and social control — and build a new America.

By Michelle Alexander / BillMoyers.com July 10, 2016

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photo credit: flickr

I have struggled to find words to express what I thought and felt as I watched the videos of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being killed by the police. Thursday night, I wanted to say something that hasn’t been said a hundred times before. It finally dawned on me that there is nothing to say that hasn’t been said before. As I was preparing to write about the oldness of all of this, and share some wisdom passed down from struggles of earlier eras, I heard on the news that 11 officers had been shot in Dallas, several killed from sniper fire. My fingers froze on the keys. I could not bring myself to recycle old truths. Something more is required. But what?

I think we all know, deep down, that something more is required of us now. This truth is difficult to face because it’s inconvenient and deeply unsettling. And yet silence isn’t an option. On any given day, there’s always something I’d rather be doing than facing the ugly, racist underbelly of America. I know that I am not alone. But I also know that the families of the slain officers, and the families of all those who have been killed by the police, would rather not be attending funerals. And I’m sure that many who refused to ride segregated buses in Montgomery after Rosa Parks stood her ground wished they could’ve taken the bus, rather than walk miles in protest, day after day, for a whole year. But they knew they had to walk. If change was ever going to come, they were going to have to walk. And so do we.

What it means to walk today will be different for different people and different groups and in different places. I am asking myself what I need to do in the months and years to come to walk my walk with greater courage. It’s a question that requires some time and reflection. I hope it’s a question we are all asking ourselves.

In recent years, I have come to believe that truly transformative change depends more on thoughtful creation of new ways of being than reflexive reactions to the old. What is happening now is very, very old. We have some habits of responding to this familiar pain and trauma that are not serving us well. In many respects it’s amazing that we endure at all. I am inspired again and again by so much of the beautiful, brilliant and daring activism that is unfolding all over the country. Yet I also know that more is required than purely reactive protest and politics. A profound shift in our collective consciousness must occur, a shift that makes possible a new America.

know many people believe that our criminal justice system can be “fixed” by smart people and smart policies. President Obama seems to think this way. He suggested yesterday that police-community relations can be improved meaningfully by a task force he created last year. Yes, a task force. I used to think like that. I don’t anymore. I no longer believe that we can “fix” the police, as though the police are anything other than a mirror reflecting back to us the true nature of our democracy. We cannot “fix” the police without a revolution of values and radical change to the basic structure of our society. Of course important policy changes can and should be made to improve police practices. But if we’re serious about having peace officers — rather than a domestic military at war with its own people — we’re going to have to get honest with ourselves about who our democracy actually serves and protects.

Consider this: Philando Castile had been stopped 31 times and charged with more than 60 minor violations — resulting in thousands of dollars in fines — before his last, fatal encounter with the police.

Alton Sterling was arrested because he was hustling, selling CDs to get by. He was unable to work in the legal economy due to his felony record. His act of survival was treated by the police as a major crime, apparently punishable by death.

How many people on Wall Street have been arrested for their crimes large and small — crimes of greed and fraud that nearly bankrupted the global economy and destroyed the futures of millions of families? How many politicians have been prosecuted for taking millions of dollars from private prisons, prison guard unions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, tobacco companies, the NRA and Wall Street banks and doing their bidding for them — killing us softly? Oh, that’s right, taking millions from those folks isn’t even a crime. Democrats and Republicans do it every day. Our entire political system is financed by wealthy private interests buying politicians and making sure the rules are written in their favor. But selling CDs or loose cigarettes? In America, that’s treated as a serious crime, especially if you’re black. For that act of survival, you can be wrestled to the ground and choked to death or shot at point blank range. Our entire system of government is designed to protect and serve the interests of the most powerful, while punishing, controlling and exploiting the least advantaged.

This is not hyperbole. And this is not new. What is new is that we’re now watching all of this on YouTube and Facebook, streaming live, as imagined super-predators are brought to heel. Fifty years ago, our country was forced to look at itself in the mirror when television stations broadcast Bloody Sunday, the day state troopers and a sheriff’s posse brutally attacked civil rights activists marching for voting rights in Selma. Those horrifying images, among others, helped to turn public opinion in support of the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps the images we’ve seen in recent days will make some difference. It’s worth remembering, though, that none of the horrifying images from the Jim Crow era would’ve changed anything if a highly strategic, courageous movement had not existed that was determined to challenge a deeply entrenched system of racial and social control.

This nation was founded on the idea that some lives don’t matter. Freedom and justice for some, not all. That’s the foundation. Yes, progress has been made in some respects, but it hasn’t come easy. There’s an unfinished revolution waiting to be won.

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Michelle Alexander is a legal scholar, human rights advocate and author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

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Prison Policy Initiative: a Must Read

caught-1013600__340 (1)This has a lot of good information for those who are interested in finding out what is really going on with our prisons. Like anything else we read in the media, they only print what the people in power want us to know, and the truth is often buried. There is no trust and honesty in the media and this year should have shown everyone that. That also includes the prison industrial complex and why we have the prison system we have.

I hear awful things some people say about inmates because they don’t understand, or realize, many of them aren’t guilty, or they have been pushed through the school to prison pipeline, or they have been targeted because they are black or other minorities. I’m not saying that there are not some pretty horrendous people in prison, because there are. But it the percentage – 6 to 1 – black to white that are locked up. It is how the American people have been told over and over that blacks are prone to crime and are less intelligent, that justifies what they did.Or they say blacks do more drugs. But the numbers say otherwise. The truth has been coming out now.

We have learned how the war on drugs was fabricated by the Nixon administration, pushed forward more by Regan, and then Clinton adds three strikes and you’re out – which he says he so regrets now. That is bullshit. This was all done to control who can vote in the years to come. Disenfranchise the black vote, who on average do not vote republican, and it is easier to control the elections. The more blacks they lock up the better it is for them. This fact is now well documented. It is also why the Nixon Admin made marijuana a class one narcotic as dangerous as heroin. The mass demonstrations against the illegal war in Viet Nam were getting in their way. Lock up all the pot smoking hippies.

nixon
credit source:  herb.co

It sounds silly when you look at the sentence by itself, but when you understand how many lives were ruined over these two things and neither of them has had anything done to alleviate it until THIS year, shows why we have 2 million more prisoners now than before Nixon. Pot is probably the least dangerous drug there is. There has not ever been one overdose and people don’t commit crimes when high. They’d have to stop laughing and eating to plan a crime. Yet still, for decades, the prisons have been jammed with people and the corporations have made a fortune over enslaving people to make their products. And most of you have no clue you buy products made by slaves who don’t get paid.

All of this has to stop, and people are now finally waking up. We have crushed a race of people who haven’t deserved what we have allowed to happen to them, and too many white people still think they deserve more privileges because they are white. This country is imploding from so much selfishness. Take the time and educated yourself. Stop getting your news from places like FOX or you only continue to be ignorant of the truth. Stop following along like sheep, believing what you read. Read all sides of an issue. Educate yourself.

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Information for Friends and Family of Inmates

I have copied part of the press release by Prison Policy Initiative from March 4, 2016. What an eye-opener. It is a must read for anyone who has family or friends incarcerated,or for anyone who pays taxes and wants to know what is happening to their money in terms of effectiveness. We need reform. There are so many people incarcerated who should be treated differently, yet the judicial system continues to incarcerate them. Please go to http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2016.html to view the statistics and pie charts. (Because they are not static, I could not copy them here).

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016

By Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy
March 14, 2016
Press release

Wait, does the United States have 1.4 million or more than 2 million people in prison? Are most people in state and federal prisons locked up for drug offenses? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of…

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Prison Industry:Big Business or Slavery?

open prison door in jail or prisonThis article was written two years ago so the numbers are higher than what is written here.  There are more people incarcerated.  Last year it was 2.3 million.  I don’t know what it is now. But the situations are the same or worse. It is easy to see what has happened to the citizens of our country because of how every little thing included jaywalking will put you on the fast lane to jail, and if you are black, you can count on it. What has happened to entice big business to use the slave labor in prisons in one reason why the government wants to keep it that way.  The contracts that were signed promising to keep the prisons full is why the joke was pulled on the people when they said they were releasing 600 federal inmates.  They couldn’t touch the ones in state prisons.  Instead of 600 prisoners being released it was actually only 20% of American prisoners that left prison and most of them were on their way out anyway.  The rest were on house arrest or were immigrants coming across the border.  But the media made it sound sooo good – 6000 people. Except that it was a scam to make you think they were doing something about it.  They can’t and they won’t.  Too many corporations use the slave labor inside the prisons.  Read on . . .

 

Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?

 

amendment-clipart-6166831

 

Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.”

The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.

What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”

CRIME GOES DOWN, JAIL POPULATION GOES UP

According to reports by human rights organizations, these are the factors that increase the profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex:

. Jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs. Federal law stipulates five years’ imprisonment without possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2 ounces of rock-cocaine or crack. A sentence of 5 years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams – 100 times more than the quantity of rock cocaine for the same sentence. Most of those who use cocaine powder are white, middle-class or rich people, while mostly Blacks and Latinos use rock cocaine. In Texas, a person may be sentenced for up to two years’ imprisonment for possessing 4 ounces of marijuana. Here in New York, the 1973 Nelson Rockefeller anti-drug law provides for a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life for possession of 4 ounces of any illegal drug.

. The passage in 13 states of the “three strikes” laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons. One of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure was that of a prisoner who for stealing a car and two bicycles received three 25-year sentences.

. Longer sentences.

. The passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for circumstances.

. A large expansion of work by prisoners creating profits that motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time.

. More punishment of prisoners, so as to lengthen their sentences.

HISTORY OF PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES

Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972.

During the post-Civil War period, Jim Crow racial segregation laws were imposed on every state, with legal segregation in schools, housing, marriages and many other aspects of daily life. “Today, a new set of markedly racist laws is imposing slave labor and sweatshops on the criminal justice system, now known as the prison industry complex,” comments the Left Business Observer.

Who is investing?

At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom’s, Revlon, Macy’s, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum.

cca. prison corporations, prison industrial complex
photo source: correctionsproject.com

And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call “highly skilled positions.” At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.

Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.

[Former] Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that “there won’t be any transportation costs; we’re offering you competitive prison labor (here).”

PRIVATE PRISONS

The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in 1990 under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton’s program for cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.

Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one. According to Russell Boraas, a private prison administrator in Virginia, “the secret to low operating costs is having a minimal number of guards for the maximum number of prisoners.” The CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for “good behavior,” but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost “good behavior time” at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons.

IMPORTING AND EXPORTING INMATES

Profits are so good that now there is a new business: importing inmates with long sentences, meaning the worst criminals. When a federal judge ruled that overcrowding in Texas prisons was cruel and unusual punishment, the CCA signed contracts with sheriffs in poor counties to build and run new jails and share the profits. According to a December 1998 Atlantic Monthly magazine article, this program was backed by investors from Merrill-Lynch, Shearson-Lehman, American Express and Allstate, and the operation was scattered all over rural Texas. That state’s governor, Ann Richards, followed the example of Mario Cuomo in New York and built so many state prisons that the market became flooded, cutting into private prison profits.

After a law signed by Clinton in 1996 – ending court supervision and decisions – caused overcrowding and violent, unsafe conditions in federal prisons, private prison corporations in Texas began to contact other states whose prisons were overcrowded, offering “rent-a-cell” services in the CCA prisons located in small towns in Texas. The commission for a rent-a-cell salesman is $2.50 to $5.50 per day per bed. The county gets $1.50 for each prisoner.

( I believe since then, there were people who tried to put a stop to this but I don’t know the outcome.)

STATISTICS

Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country’s 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.

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Torture of U.S. Political Prisoners

I read this article today. It is a prime example of how we torture people in our prisons or give them unjust sentences. Some of these people are guilty and some aren’t, but there is such determination to destroy their lives, not based on whether the sentence is just, but because they weren’tliked. Their ideologies weren’t liked. They were punished with these sentences and kept in solitary confinement when it wasn’t necessary. This is the wrong use of our “injustice” system. It is way beyond what should have been. Their sentence did not fit the crime, if they did indeed commit a crime in the first place.

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The sentences for long term political prisoners are extreme. And cruel, revenge for the prisoner’s challenge to the system rather than appropriate punishment for alleged crimes of self defence or for the unplanned tragedies of political actions. Because many here were provably targeted by law enforcement programs to silence them and are likely to be innocent, the length of prison terms falls into a pattern of racist and political oppression.

The prisoners are consistently from Black or left wing resistance groups after moderate leaders within the system were assassinated. The arrests and sentencing come from a time when police actions against Black Panthers were overtly criminal (Fred Hampton) and covertly part of a military and law enforcement war against the left, anti war resistance, the poor. Allegations against leaders of Black communities couldn’t be relied on as   factual. While “life imprisonment” is better than death who will tell us that it’s bearable? Beyond sentencing, some cases show repetitive patterns of withholding medical care to the point of extrajudicial punishment, particularly where the prisoner was accused of crimes against police (ref. Oct. 13, 2013). The additional extra-judicial punishment of holding a prisoner for years in solitary confinement is finally being recognized as a crime. It’s torture. Political prisoners targeted for their convictions, their organizing, their truths, suffered more than most of us can sustain, and some have survived. Their lives weren’t allowed to be lived. Their suffering was caused and intended to scare everyone else. We remember political prisoners because they keep alive our hope that there will always be people who say no to what is unacceptable.

Thomas William Manning of the Ohio Seven: according to Medical Justice of the Jericho Movement Manning remains at FMC Butner where he was transferred in 2010: his knee replacement surgery was performed in 2012 but kept him in a wheelchair since his damaged shoulder didn’t allow him to progress with physiotherapy. Shoulder surgery, for an injury which by my understanding was caused by police (on arrest he was picked up and dropped until something broke), continues to be denied him as ‘not medically necessary.’ Appropriate private medical treatment was effectively denied with his parole, November 2014. He’s expected to be freed August 20, 2020. Tom Manning became an artist in prison and there’s an art book of his paintings out – For Love and Liberty: Artist Tom Manning, Freedom Fighter, Political Prisoner.  [1]

Albert Woodfox, of the Angola 3 was finally released February 19, 2016. The State of Louisiana appealed three former judicial attempts to free him, and kept him in solitary confinement. At the final trial the prisoner pleaded nolo contendere in a plea bargain which gains his freedom without admission of guilt but lets him plead to lesser charges for which he has already served the time. This time he can’t be placed back in a cell. The extreme injustice remains that as an innocent, Albert Woodfox served 43 years in solitary confinement. His lawyer is bringing legal action against the State of Louisiana for its policies of solitary confinement.  [2]

Russell Maroon Shoatz: in 2013 counsel for Russell Maroon Shoatz sued Pennsylvania’s State Corrections Secretary, John Wetzel, and the Greene Correctional Institution Superintendent, Louis Folino, for cruel and unusual punishment without recourse to remedy. This directly attacked the solitary confinement policies of the State’s Department of Corrections. The case protests the cruelty of solitary confinement as applied to Shoatz for over 22 years. It may help other Pennsylvania prisoners. On February 15, 2016 the federal court judge ruled that Shoatz’s case should be decided by a jury trial. At the hearing Shoatz’s lawyer was able to provide a report by Juan Mendez, the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Torture who found the conditions of Shoatz’s imprisonment beyond the current norm of civilized nations.  [3]

Mumia Abu Jamal: his case has allowed a challenge to a Pennsylvania Department of Corrections policy on treatment of patients with Hepatits C. There is a known treatment for the disease. It costs about eighty-four thousand dollars in the U.S.. If not treated Hep C may develop into cirrhosis of the liver which is lethal. Even when diagnosed with Hep C U.S. prisoners are not usually treated for the disease because of the expense. Abu-Jamal’s lawyers are challenging the DFOCV policy of triage which waits to give expensive treatment until there is a Hepatitis C caused medical emergency which is possibly fatal. The hope is to gain Abu-Jamal among other prisoners the life-saving treatment. The effects on Abu-Jamal through lack of appropriate medical treatment as revealed through trial testimony, are awful, similar to the effects of torture, and these were unrefuted.  [4]

Leonard Peltier: the International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee (ILPDC) has confirmed that a preliminary diagnosis of the prisoner’s condition by an MRI shows an abdominal aortic aneurism. Aware of Peltier’s illness before June 2015, initial results were available about January 10th, 2016. Consistently, prison authorities have moved very slowly to address Peltier’s medical difficulties to the point of endangering his life for the forty years of his imprisonment so far. Treatment of a potentially fatal aneurism requires an exception – it was to be operated on before mid-January. Peltier notes in an article of Feb. 23rd that no operation was forthcoming since he’s in a maximum security prison and inmates don’t get treatment until the problem is terminal. There was always serious doubt of the validity of Peltier’s conviction. There is strong doubt he’s being held legally now. He needs and deserves the clemency students across the country will be demanding February 27th.  [5]

Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin: one of the most important alternative voices in America, Al-Amin remains without pardon in prison serving a life sentence. I believe he’s innocent of the charges against him. At Butner Federal Medical Center a bone marrow biopsy on Jan. 23, 2014 revealed the presence of myeloma cells. The condition was to be monitored every several months. Then he was returned to the remote ADX Florence Colorado, an over-controlled maximum security prison for the most dangerous prisoners. It’s considered one of America’s worst. On Sept. 3, 2015 a prisoner was able to contact the Prison Movement with the news that Al-Amin was in a medical emergency. [6]

Robert Seth Hayes: in July 2015, Medical Justicenoted that Seth Hayes was beginning to receive some treatment for his Hepatitis C and diabetes but none for “chronic bleeding and abdominal growths.” Despite previous emergency alerts and notices he continues without adequate health care at Sullivan Correctional Facility in New York. Medical Justice claims his diabetes is not under control and as of November 2015 he was having trouble breathing.Medical Justice has asked he be taken to a pulmonary and heart specialist immediately. Medical treatment so far is inadequate to the point of intentional harm. Hayes is a Vietnam war veteran and Black Panther sentenced back in 1973 to from 25 years to life. It’s 2016 now. He’s denied his freedom and his health.   [7]

Sekou Odinga: imprisoned for his part in the 1979 freeing of Assata Shakur and his part in the Brinks robbery of 1981, with a mandatory release date of 2009, Sekou Abdullah Odinga (Nathaniel Burns) left prison on parole Nov. 25, 2014. He passed about half his 34 years time in solitary confinement. [8]

Dr. Mutulu Shakur: under laws no longer in effect Dr. Shakur won his release date of Feb. 10, 2016, after serving 30 years of a sixty year sentence. On Feb. 4th he received notice of a scheduled parole hearing on April 4th and so remains in Victorville U.S. Penitentiary (California). He is being held illegally. Authorities hold against him the planning of the Brinks robbery of 1981 where two policemen and two guards were killed, and attribute to him the successful escape of Assata Shakur (Joanne D. Chesimard) from a New Jersey prison to Cuba. A doctor, healer and teacher he should be allowed to continue his work of wholeness, caring for people in New York. [9]

Judith Clark has served 35 years of a minimum 75 year sentence; she’ll be eligible for parole at the age of 107. She drove a getaway car for the 1981 Brinks robbery which Dr. Shakur is said to have planned. She was not accused of any violent act and the intolerable length of her sentence reflected the court’s judgement of her political thinking and expression rather than her degree of guilt. She refused a lawyer as did David Gilbert still in prison, and Kuwasi Balagoon who has died in prison. Her statements to the court were honest but radical. Of the same group Kathy Boudin plead guilty which brought her a twenty year sentence and she left prison on parole in 2003. The New York Times reports that former presidents of the New York Bar association have joined in a plea of clemency for Judith Clark. Under current law an appeal to the governor is the only means of finding her a release from prison. The length of the sentence is so clearly unjust it reflects poorly on the sanity of the legal system. [10]

Under the norms of civilization, each of these prisoners would be freed. But each of these cases is abnormal, contravening any international expectation of justice. The length of the sentences is consistently skewed from the norm. The sentences are primitive, scented with revenge and racist hatred. These prisoners among all the public doesn’t know about had their lives taken away because of what they believed and who they cared for. From a time when law enforcement was corrupt, racist, and as programmed to right wing extremism as it is today, the charges against the prisoners do not match up with the prisoners’ histories, writings , concerns, deeds over the years, whom they’ve proved themselves to be. So the allegations are either hard to believe, or within a logic of self defence. The courts’ astounding long sentences were intended to wipe out the left wing. In a United States that promises freedom who would have the outrageous ignorance to deny any of these a pardon.

Gouache drawings by Julie Maas

Notes:

  1. “Tom Manning,” current, Medical Justice; “Tom Manning (prisoner) explained,” current, Explained Today‘ “Tom Manning,” current, Wikipedia.
  2. “Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3 released from prison in Louisiana,” Steve Almasy, Feb. 19, 2016, CNN; “Albert Woodfox released from jail after 43 years in solitary confinement,” Ed Pilkington, Feb. 19, 2016, theguardian.
  3. “22 Years in Solitary May Be Cruel & Unusual, Federal Judge Says,”Rose Bouboushian, Feb. 18, 2016, Courthouse News Service; “How a Former Black Panther Could Change the Rules of Solitary Confinement,” Victoria Law, Feb. 22, 2016, The Nation.
  4. “Mumia Abu-Jamal vs John Kerestes et al,” #15cv967, Dec. 18, 2015, The United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania [access:<http://www.prisonradio.org/sites/default/files/letters/pdf/Abu-Jamal%20v%20Kerestes%20PreliminInjunctionTranscript%2012-15%20%281%29.pdf >].
  5. “New Health Emergency for Leonard Peltier,” Jan. 6, 2016, International Leonard Peltier Defense Committee; “Leonard Peltier’s MRI Confirms Abdominal Aortic Aneurism Diagnosis,” Levi Rickert, Jan. 10, 2016, Native News Online.net; “Call for National Student Day of Action: Demand Obama Grant Clemency to Leonard Peltier!” current,peltierstudentnationalaction.wordpress.com; “What Can I Say?” Leonard Peltier, Feb.23, 2016, NetNewsLedger.
  6. “Stop the execution of Imam Jamil, the former H. Rap Brown, by medical neglect in federal prison”, the Imam Jamil Action Network, Sept. 6, 2015,BayView; Biopsy results released for Imam Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown)”, Karima Al-Amin, Aug. 8, 2014, BayView; “Jamil Al-Amin (H. Rap Brown),” current, Medical Justice
  7. “July update on Seth Hayes: Call for support,” July 5, 2015, Medical Justice; “Robert Seth Hayes Urgent Medical Update,” Nov. 16, 2015, Medical Justice.
  8. “UC-Irvine welcomes ‘political prisoner’ involved in cop killings,” Dave Huber, Feb. 10, 2016, The College Fix; “Free ‘Em All: 50 Years Later, Black Panthers Are Still Fighting for Freedom,” Asha Bandele, Feb. 18, 2016Huffington PostAlternet.
  9. “Mutulu Shakur,” current, Family & Friends of Dr. Mutulu Shakur; “Mutulu Shakur has not been released from Prison ,” Pologod, Feb. 12, 2016, The source; “Dr. Mutulu Shakur: More than Tupac’s stepfather!” Feb.18, 2016,BayView.
  10. “As Ringleader in ’81 Brink’s Robbery Goes Free, a Plea for Its Getaway Driver,” Jim Dwyer, Feb. 9, 2016, The New York Times; “Judith Clark’s Radical Transformation,” Tom Robbins, Jan. 12, 2012, The New York Times Magazine.

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